Local, intl funds to invest in rooftop PV systems

Muscat, April 7 – International developers backed by funding agencies — local and global — are expected to bid for the first wave of contracts for the installation of small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems atop residential buildings in Muscat Governorate later this year, according to a top official of the Authority for Electricity Regulation Oman (AER). The regulator is overseeing the implementation of solar rooftop capacity in the Sultanate as part of its ‘Sahim’ initiative, with the capital city selected to spearhead the rollout of the landmark programme.
Between 3,000-5,000 homes in the city are proposed to be covered in the first tranche of the programme before it is progressively expanded to cover other cities and towns across the country.
In comments to the Observer, AER’s Executive Director, Qais Saud al Zakwani (pictured), said funding for the initiative will primarily come from international developers with proven expertise and a presence in the global small-scale solar PV infrastructure development market.
“When you look at small-scale solar development in countries around the world, the developers are mostly funds and banks that tie up with a technology provider. We also expect local Omani funds (sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, and banks) to be part of consortiums that will bid for contracts under Sahim. As the solar PV installations are for households of a capacity of 3-5 kW, these are not complex and (capital-intensive) as you would expect in Independent Power Projects (IPP).”
Significantly, the first contracts for the implementation of grid-connected, small-scale solar rooftop systems are expected to be awarded during the fourth quarter of this year, according to the official.
An online app designed to enable Muscat-based homeowners to register their interest in the Sahim programme is due to be launched this month. This will be followed by the issuance of an RfP in June, inviting international developers to register their interest in competing for contracts to design, finance, install, operate and maintain the rooftop systems under long-term agreements, he said.
“We expect the app to be launched by mid-April, with the RfP due to go out in June. We will give one month for interested customers to register their interest on the app. Once that list is filtered, those customers will go out as an annexe to the RfP. The bidders will quote their best tariff for installing, as well as operating and maintaining the systems under a long term contract. The most competitive quotes will be awarded the contracts,” said Al Zakwani.
As part of the tender criteria, developers will also be required to utilise the services of Omani small and medium enterprises (SMEs) specialising in this sector. “We have a big number of these locally developed SMEs — around 19 so far that have certified by Distribution Code Review Panel (DCRP) — with more in the pipeline in various stages of development. It will be a requirement for the developer to utilise local knowhow.”